Perhaps I should open with the verse that is so familiar with the title above. It is known as the third commandment, part of the Mosaic Law. It can be found in the second book of the Pentateuch, Exodus.
(Exodus 20:7) You must not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain. Most Christians teach that this verse forbids us from using the name of God as profanity. Although this is true, I would also like to look at a deeper meaning behind this commandment. To do so requires us to look at the definition of the word “vain.” I believe that we can agree that the definition of “vain” is as follows: to do something without success, or to reverence something without respect or honor.
The definition I would like to look at in this article is the former, “to do something without success.” Too often we, as believers, overlook that meaning of the word “vain!” Oh, we are careful not to use it profanely; but, how often, dear believer, do you walk by people and say nothing? How often do you go to church to worship Jesus and then leave and not say a word to anyone outside of church? We take the name of God as “Christians;” and yet, we fail the third commandment by not sharing the gospel of Christ with the lost. We continue to “take His name” without success. Remember, “The LORD will not hold him guiltless that takes his name in vain!”
Too often I hear believers complaining that America is an un-Godly country. Why is that? Could it be that we, the believers, have taken the Lord’s name in vain? How are the people of America supposed to know how to live, when they are without Christ? We complain, yet we tell no one who God is. We have the Holy Spirit and they do not. The Holy Spirit isn’t some force that goes around and changes peoples’ lives on its own. Do we not know that The Spirit lives in us? How is He supposed to reach non-believers if we, the bearers of The Holy Ghost, do not carry Him to them? We are the salt of the earth for a reason!
(Matthew 5:13) You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt becomes insipid, how much will it salt? After that, it is good for nothing except to be thrown out and be rejected among men. Here, we see the result of taking the Lord’s name in vain. If we take His name in vain, we become insipid, that is, we lose our savor. After we lose our savor, we become good for nothing and will be rejected among men. I dare ask, “Why does America reject Christians so much?” Could it be that we have become insipid, that we have lost our savor? Why is it that believers in America are rejected among their people while believers in other countries are not so much rejected as persecuted? Could it be that they have not taken God’s name in vain, and have not lost their savor? Do you see the difference? Rejection happens when we have lost our savor; persecution happens when we are close to God. How many people do you offend by living in Christ? If we, as believers, can live in harmony with the rest of the world around us, we have taken the Lord’s name in vain, and have lost our savor.
(Amos 3:3) Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? This is a simple question. Let me ask a similar one. Can we live beside non-believers without them being offended, unless they see us like they are themselves? Often we see that the closer a person gets to God; the more people they offend. And I dare say, most of the time without opening their mouth. The fact is, unless people see us on the same level as themselves, they are not comfortable around us. Persecution happens because Christians become so close to God that those around them can no longer stand it. And it does not only happen with unbelievers. When a brother in Christ, who is close to God, walks into a church full of those who are not; the church then becomes uncomfortable. At this point one of two things will happen. Either the church will become offended to the point of running the brother out, or the church will be moved to walk in agreement with the brother and a revival will be brought among its people.
In America today, we find churches constantly losing pastors, and churches closing their doors. Perhaps those pastors were “too close” to God and were forced out. Perhaps church doors keep closing because the people within them have lost their savor and are now good for nothing.
Pastors, do you hear everyone complimenting you on your sermon every Sunday, or murmuring about your sermon every Sunday? If I was a pastor and heard compliments every Sunday, I would check my heart. There are two reasons that this would happen every week. Either you are getting closer to God through your studies and your congregation is as well, or you have become complacent and your preaching doesn’t move the congregation to become closer to God. On the same note, I would also check my heart if I heard murmuring about the message every week. There are also two reasons for such murmurings. Either you are getting closer to God through your studies every week and it touches their hearts, or your doctrine is wrong. I dare say that it is the former most of the time.
One last thing has come to mind. I have heard this question asked of many believers, “If someone held a gun to your head and told you to “Denounce Christ or die,” would you do it?” Most of the time, the answers I have heard have been “I don’t know.” I answer with this: when I am finally living my life so close to God that it brings someone to pull a gun and demand such as that, I will have no problem with them pulling the trigger.
Dear teachers, pastors, and fellow laborers. Let us not take the name of the Lord without success, but let us take it to those who do not believe so that it may succeed. Let us not become insipid, but let us keep our savor. Let us not live in agreement with those around us, but let us become closer to God that we might offend them by having God’s grace shine through us! And when it comes to rejection and persecution, let us be persecuted! At least then we will know that we have not become worthless!!!